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The Mind-Gene Connection

When I first began to discuss the mind-gene connection (Rossi, 1985) as a means by which hypnotherapeutic approaches could be developed to modulate gene activity, my conjectures were greeted as a novel form of science fiction. Genes seem so inviolate, with 60,000 or so of them apparently carefully guarded within the microscopic nucleus of each living cell of the body.

We usually think of genes as resting quietly until the chromosomes suddenly spring into action in the process of cell division. The actual facts are quite different:Many genes are in a process of continuous, dynamic equilibrium with cellular metabolism. This genetic-cellular equilibrium is, in turn, modulated by neurotransmitters and hormones that ultimately come as messengers from the central nervous system.

A general model of the mind-gene connection requires a survey of the entire series of transduction processes that take place from mind and neural events, to blood, tissue, and cellular processes, and finally to the molecular activity of genes within the nucleus of each cell. This transduction process is divided into three stages.

Stage one consists of mind operating in the area of the anterior frontal cortex (Achterberg, 1985) as the generative locus for organizing imagery in healing and health. The frontal lobe processes are then filtered through the individual's repertory of experiential life learnings encoded in state-dependent memory, learning, and behavior processes of the limbic-hypothalamic system.

Stage two is the transduction of these learnings by the hypothalamus into the hormone-releasing factors that regulate the endocrine's pituitary gland. The pituitary in turn releases a host of hormones which regulate the entire endocrine system of the body.

Stage three takes place on the cellular level when these hormones turn on the cAMP system or pass directly to the nucleus of the cell to activate gene processes. Genes are involved in providing the information for building new proteins, which in turn serve as structural elements of the cell or as building blocks for enzymes that facilitate the basic biochemical process of each cell.

From the book "Psychobiology of Mind-Body Healing"

Psychobiology of Mind-Body Healing: New Concepts in Therapeutic Hypnosis
by Ernest Rossi

Rossi brings together extensive new evidence from psychoneuroimmunology, neuroendocrinology, molecular genetics, and neurobiology to show that there is no mysterious gap between mind and body. This book identifies what the medical profession calls "pathways", that is, the way attitudes or emotions are processed by the body in creating physiological or biochemical change. Rossi documents and illustrates how these pathways coordinate all the "messenger molecules" of mind-body communication via the autonomic, endocrine, immune, and neuropeptide systems.